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Despite 49-9 loss, Woody Johnson sees Jets “improving rapidly”

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

The Jets are coming off their worst game of the season, a 49-9 loss to the Bengals in which Geno Smith was benched after his second pick-six and the defense allowed Marvin Jones to score four touchdowns. But Jets owner Woody Johnson isn’t discouraged.

In fact, Johnson says he believes the Jets are getting better all the time.

We have a very young team,” Johnson said, via the New York Daily News. “I think it’s the third-youngest team in the NFL and it’s not an excuse. You’re going to have games like that with a young quarterback and young team — seven new players on defense — so it’s going to take them a while to coalesce. But they’re improving rapidly, and I think the coaches are very happy with the progress.”

It doesn’t get any easier for the Jets with the Saints coming to town on Sunday, but Johnson doesn’t see any reason his team can’t compete with one of the NFL’s best.

“I think we’re a good team, too. If we’re prepared properly, I think we should do very well,” Johnson said.

The Jets have alternated wins and losses every week this season. If they can surprise everyone and follow up last week’s ugly loss with a win, Johnson will be vindicated in his belief that his team is improving. But a second straight ugly loss would make it tough for anyone to buy that the Jets are really any better than they were last year.

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Dorial Green-Beckham will “play with the first group” this week

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01: Dorial Green-Beckham #17 of the Tennessee Titans warms up before playing against the Houston Texans on November 1, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles didn’t wait long to put wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham into game action, throwing him into the lineup for last week’s game against the Steelers two days after he was acquired in a trade with the Titans.

Green-Beckham will be in the lineup again for this week’s game against the Colts and he’ll be getting a chance to see how he fits with the team’s projected starters. Coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday that the Eagles will “put a little package together” for the wideout while the first team is in the game.

“We put a couple plays in for him this week, expanded his role from a week ago,” Pederson said in comments distributed by the team. “Full week of practice. He’s comfortable with what we’re doing with him. Can’t tell you how many [or] the number of snaps he’ll get, but he’ll definitely play and play with the first group.”

Green-Beckham’s acquisition and quick move into the lineup may not be an indictment of the receivers that have seen time since Jordan Matthews suffered a knee injury, but they aren’t votes of overwhelming support either. Should Green-Beckham do well in the limited package Pederson’s proposing this week, an expanded role in future weeks will likely be coming at the expense of someone who thought his spot on the roster was more secure than it turned out to be.

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Which teams won’t get back to the playoffs in 2016?


The NFL playoffs have significant turnover  every year, with four, five, or six teams that made it the prior season not getting back. On Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, we’ll attempt to pick four 2015 playoff teams who won’t be back in 2016.

You can pick, too. The 12 teams appear in the poll below. Pick four of them who won’t be back, and we’ll share the results on tomorrow’s show.

PFT Live gets rolling at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the simulcast on NBCSN starting at 7:00 a.m. ET. Guests include Bengals cornerback Adam Jones and Hall of Fame coach and NBC analyst Tony Dungy.

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Justin Blackmon gets suspended sentence, avoids jail time

Britain 49ers Jaguars Football AP

Suspended Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon received a one-year suspended sentence and probation Wednesday at a sentencing hearing and will avoid jail time as long as he complies with conditions set by an Oklahoma judge.

Blackmon had pleaded guilty in April to a DUI charge.

The Dec. 2015 incident marked Blackmon’s second DUI arrest since being drafted in the first round by the Jaguars in 2012 and his third in all. He remains indefinitely suspended by the NFL after his appeal for reinstatement was denied last year.

Through his attorney, Blackmon declined an interview request while leaving the courtroom Wednesday.

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Chargers DL Damion Square suspended four games

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 20:   Melvin Ingram #54 of the San Diego Chargers,  Damion Square #71 of the San Diego Chargers,  Denzel Perryman #52 of the San Diego Chargers tackls running back Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins during the second half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 20, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

We don’t know if Joey Bosa will see any time with the Chargers defensive line in the first four games of the season, but Damion Square definitely won’t be on the field.

In a less combative release than the one they sent out regarding their contract negotiations with Bosa, the Chargers announced that Square has been suspended four games by the league for a substance-abuse policy violation. The team expressed it’s disappointment and Square apologized in a statement of his own.

“I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire Chargers organization as well as the fans,” Square said. “I made a mistake and take full responsibility. I look forward to returning in Week 5 and doing whatever I can do to help the team.”

Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Square was suspended after missing a drug test.

Square joined the Chargers as a waiver claim in 2014 and had six tackles in six games for them last season. In addition to Square, the Chargers will also be without Sean Lissemore on their defensive line in the early part of the year after placing him on injured reserve earlier this month.

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Chris Cooley says Bryan Stork’s retiring rather than coming to D.C.

New England Patriots Rookie Minicamp Getty Images

OK, if anyone is near Bryan Stork, send us a picture of him, so we’ll know for sure where he is and what’s going on.

The guy who started a Super Bowl two seasons ago for the Patriots and was reportedly cut this morning, then reportedly traded, may not be going to Washington after all.

According to former Washington tight end Chris Cooley, who still works for Dan Snyder’s radio station, Stork is retiring.

Mike Jones of the Washington Post, who does not work for Snyder, said his source told him that was “possibly” true.

Stork is a good player and would clearly be of benefit to a team if he wanted to play. But he also has a track record of concussions, and that could be a factor here as well.

But at this point, he could abandon snapping for a living and try out to play Major League Baseball and we wouldn’t be surprised.

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James Harrison: I’ll be cleared like Peyton Manning

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 09: Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts scrambles away from James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 9, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers linebacker James Harrison has agreed to talk to NFL investigators tomorrow about an Al Jazeera documentary alleging he used performance-enhancing drugs, and he expects the same result as the first player who cooperated with the league’s investigation.

“They are going to clear my name and give me the same sendoff they gave Peyton Manning,” Harrison said, via ESPN. “I’m going to be cleared. They are going to give me the same thing, flash, across the bulletin board, NFL, Instagram, Twitter, all that — ‘James Harrison cleared.'”

The Al Jazeera report accused Manning, Harrison, Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and free agent Mike Neal of using PEDs. Manning cooperated with the league’s investigation and was cleared. Harrison, Matthews, Peppers and Neal initially refused to cooperate but agreed to speak to investigators when they were told they’d be suspended if they didn’t.

Despite agreeing to cooperate, Harrison referred to the NFL’s interview as a “waste of time.”

“It’s a stupid thing I gotta do to continue doing what it is I want to do and trying to get to where we want to be, and that’s holding a Lombardi [Trophy],” Harrison said.

After being cleared like Manning, Harrison hopes to do at the end of this season what Manning did at the end of last season.

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John Brown out with headache days after returning from concussion

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27:  Wide receiver John Brown #12 of the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 38-8.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cardinals wide receiver John Brown went into the league’s concussion protocol early in training camp and wound up missing three weeks of work before getting cleared to return to practice last weekend.

Brown’s return to action has hit a snag, however. Coach Bruce Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, that Brown has a headache and won’t practice on Wednesday.

The Cardinals were off on Tuesday and Brown took part in Monday’s practice while wearing a non-contact jersey to let his teammates know not to hit him during the workout.

Per Somers, the Cardinals “seem confident” Brown will be ready to go for the start of the regular season but concussions don’t always follow a straight line and a return to the concussion protocol could make that an iffy proposition given how long the symptoms have lingered this month.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is also out of practice on Wednesday while he continues to manage the MCL issue that kept him from playing in the team’s second preseason game.

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Rob Gronkowski returns to practice field for Patriots

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots waits near the bench during their game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

The good news is, the Patriots kept the scissors away from Rob Gronkowski. Actually, that’s probably a good idea year-round.

According to Phil Perry of, the Patriots tight end returned to the practice field today. Jon Bon Jovi was apparently there too, but the Patriots are much happier Gronkowski will be there for them.

Gronkowski has been off since pulling up in an Aug. 15 practice and walking away with trainers. No word was given as to the reason for his absence.

Considering he’s practically never involved in the preseason anyway, his absence for the last week hadn’t yet reached the point of panic.

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Report: Bryan Stork traded to Washington rather than released

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots prepares to take a snap from Bryan Stork #66 of the New England Patriots in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, multiple reports from New England had the Patriots cutting center Bryan Stork from their 90-man roster.

That appears to have been premature or a well-timed leak to generate some trade interest because Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Stork has been traded to the Redskins for a conditional draft choice. There’s no word on the draft pick or the conditions.

Kory Lichtensteiger is at the top of the depth chart at center for the Redskins and has gotten the start in each of the team’s two preseason games to this point. They have Spencer Long listed as their backup center, but Long is also the starter at left guard while the team waits to see if Shawn Lauvao can be healthy enough to regain the job.

Stork, a 2014 fourth-round pick, has made 17 starts at center for the Patriots over the last two seasons.

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On Wednesday, Buccaneers open practice features no kicks from Roberto Aguayo


On Tuesday, Buccaneers rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo was heckled and jeered by his team’s own fans while he kicked at a public practice. On Wednesday, there were no heckles or jeers because Aguayo didn’t kick during the open practice.

This development invites suspicion that the Buccaneers tried to hide Aguayo from those who may heckle and jeer him. According to, the team privately has denied any such suggestion.’

Besides, with the next two preseason games at home (including Friday night against the Browns), it’s not as if the Bucs could hide Aguayo for very long.

The second-round draft pick has missed three total kicks in two preseason games, and he struggled at times in practice on Tuesday.

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Chargers vow to reduce Joey Bosa offer

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Joey Bosa of Ohio State holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #3 overall by the San Diego Chargers during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon regarding unsigned defensive end Joey Bosa, the Chargers said that they will restructure (i.e., reduce) the financial package that previously had been on the table for the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.

The reduction is occurring because, per the team, “Joey will be unable to contribute for the full 16 game season without the adequate time on the practice field, in the classroom, and in preseason games.”

The Chargers contend that an effort was made to resolve the impasse on Tuesday night.

“We gave Joey’s representatives our best offer last night, which was rejected today,” the team said.  “The offer that we extended was for Joey to contribute during all 16 games and beyond.  Joey’s ability to contribute for an entire rookie season has now been jeopardized by the valuable time he has missed with his coaches and his teammates. Since Joey will not report at this time, his ability to produce not just early in the season, but throughout the entire season, has been negatively impacted.”

The rest of the statement presents the team’s characterization of its offer, which undoubtedly conflicts with Bosa’s interpretation of it. The overriding problem continues to be that the Chargers do not want to deviate from what it regards as team precedent, and Bosa does not want to deviate from what he regards as precedent for the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.

The two primary sticking points had related to whether the guaranteed money will include offset language, and whether a large piece of the signing bonus will be deferred until March 2017. (There’s also a disagreement on the language and amount of training-camp roster bonuses, which are now common in top-10 rookie deals including offset language.) However, there never had been a dispute over the total dollars.

Based on the team’s statement, there now is. Which will make it even harder to get a deal done.

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Siemian back throwing after quasi-day off

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20:  Quarterback Trevor Siemian of the Denver Broncos throws a first quarter pass under pressure by outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks of the San Francisco 49ers a preseason NFL game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian was throwing as the Broncos opened practice Wednesday.

That’s notable not just because throwing is an important part of Siemian’s job description. On Tuesday, he didn’t throw during practice despite being suited up and otherwise participating.

Siemian landed on his throwing shoulder while trying to make a tackle after throwing an interception in last weekend’s preseason game. Broncos Coach Gary Kubiak had previously announced that Siemian would start this week’s third — and generally most important — preseason game

Siemian and Mark Sanchez have basically split the No. 1 reps while competing for the starting job. That Siemian has been tabbed to start for a second consecutive week is a sign he’s leading the race as it enters the home stretch, and that he’s back throwing says he’ll be cleared and ready for his next start.

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Giants owner on Brown: “A big difference between allegations and convictions”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 21:  Kicker Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants looks on after an extra point against the Minnesota Vikings during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

In finally coming out to discuss the Josh Brown situation, Giants owner John Mara defended his team’s handling of kicker Josh Brown, saying they did enough research to make them have a degree of trust in their kicker.

And in doing so, he suggested there was enough conflicting information to make it a complicated decision.

“A lot times there’s a tendency to try to make these cases black and white, they are very rarely black and white, very rarely have a Ray Rice video,’’ Mara said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “There are allegations made, you try to sort through the facts and try to make an informed decision. That’s what we did here.’’

The absence of a video also allows a lot more opportunity for leniency than Rice ever received, and Brown’s one-game suspension is well less than the six-game baseline the league had previously mandated.

Brown was initially charged with domestic violence in 2015, but charges were later dropped. His ex-wife accused him of more than 20 acts of violence against her and her teenage son. There were also incident reports from New Jersey saying she kicked him in the ribs, but no charges were filed there.

The very nature of the he-said/she-said allegations gave Mara pause, and he said that contributed to him waiting this long to speak.

“I’m not going to get into whether they were valid or invalid,’’ Mara said. “We did do some due diligence on this. We had a number of conversations with a number of different people. Again, we’re comfortable with the decision we made.

“That’s one of the reasons I hesitated, quite frankly, in addressing all of you because you get into discussions like that, and I don’t think it’s fair or appropriate. There are privacy issues here. There are sensitive, emotional issues that affect families, and it’s very difficult to discuss things in public and make a situation even worse than it already is.’’

But it’s clear that Mara had a degree of doubt about what he heard from the other side of the family.

“One thing that you learn when you’re dealing with these issues is that there’s a big difference between allegations and convictions, or indictments,” he said. “It’s very difficult sometimes to sort through all that and make informed decisions. We attempted to make an informed decision here. We’ll live with the results of that decision and we move forward.’’

And they’ll do so with Brown, once he serves his one-game suspension.

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Teddy Bridgewater feels good after return to throwing on Tuesday

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws to wide receiver Charles Johnson for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores) AP

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s late scratch from last week’s game against the Seahawks was followed by a report that Bridgewater had a sore shoulder and two days of practice that saw Bridgewater held out of throwing drills.

Tuesday saw Bridgewater return to throwing passes at practice and offensive coordinator Norv Turner said that Bridgewater made all the throws the team needed to see when asked about sticking to shorter throws during the session. Bridgewater didn’t answer most of the questions about his shoulder, deferring to coach Mike Zimmer, but said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he feels “very good” physically.

Zimmer didn’t provide too many details about Bridgewater’s condition when asked on Tuesday, but did say that he would “err on the side of caution” if Bridgewater had any issue with his shoulder.

Bridgewater doesn’t expect to be a scratch again this Sunday, saying “of course” he’ll play in the first Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium when they take on the Chargers.

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Colin Kapernick “on track” to play Friday, no call on who starts

San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick throws a pass during NFL football training practice, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP

The plan coming into the week was for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to practice without restrictions and then play in Friday’s preseason game against the Packers.

Kaepernick had missed practice time last week while dealing with a tired arm, but has been on the practice field this week without a “pitch count” governing the number of throws he’s making. Coach Chip Kelly said that Kaepernick has been splitting the first-team reps with Blaine Gabbert, but that no determination has been made at this point about who will take the first snap on Friday.

“We haven’t discussed it, yet,” Kelly said, via “We got two days of training to go through. We’ll see. He’s on track. We’re excited and we’re hopeful he will be ready to go. But I’m not going to put the cart before the horse. We have a system. When we get to Friday, we’ll know exactly from [head athletic trainer Jeff Ferguson] who’s up and who’s down. If he’s up, he’s going to play.”

Kaepernick last played in a game last November and spent the offseason recovering from multiple surgeries, but Kelly said the quarterback has been “sharp with all the things mentally” the last few days. A sharp physical outing on Friday would be a big next step in Kaepernick’s bid to return to the lineup.

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